Giuseppe Zanotti comes from San Mauro Pascoli, a small town a few kilometres from Fellini’s Rimini, famous for its long-established shoe manufacturing tradition. In the early Eighties Zanotti was a keen DJ, frequenting eclectic, avant-garde nightspots.
Giuseppe Zanotti comes from San Mauro Pascoli, a small town a few kilometres from Fellini’s Rimini, famous for its long-established shoe manufacturing tradition.
In the early Eighties Zanotti was a keen DJ, frequenting eclectic, avant-garde nightspots. Shortly afterwards his natural bent for art, design and fashion led him to follow the prêt-à-porter catwalk shows in Milan and Paris with great interest. But it was his deep-rooted passion for women’s shoes and his fascination with the craft industry he had so admired in his native town that spurred him to take the first big step towards becoming a shoe designer.
The first collection was presented in New York to a warm reception from buyers, who immediately put their faith in this new designer and his jewelled footwear. Success and popularity quickly followed, reflected in the company’s growth: after starting out with a tiny workforce, it soon employed over 400 skilled workers producing elegant footwear.
In 2000 the first Giuseppe Zanotti Design boutique opened in Milan. Additional boutiques followed in the major fashion and luxury capitals of New York, Paris, London, Moscow, Dubai and Hong Kong, with the label today counting over 100 flagship stores in the world. We decided to have a little chat with the eccentric designer, so read on.
“Giuseppe Zanotti woman is self-confident, irreverent and extremely attractive. She is in constant evolution”
Of all the shoes you designed, which one has given to you the most satisfaction?
I feel a permanent dissatisfaction with what I make, this drives me constantly in search of more. Luckily, I am still young (I am 58 years old) and I have enough time to realise my future inspirations.
What criteria do you use when designing shoes?
Whenever you are designing a shoe, you should always stay focused on the feet beyond the woman. You need to make women feel safe in high heels. My goal has always been based on combining safety with beauty.
Where do you work on your collections, and what is the place that inspires you most?
I usually design shoes at my office which is located in a small town called San Mauro Pascoli, in Italy. My approach is to keep my eyes wide open to be inspired from the world around me. The best exercise for a designer is to listen to people, to catch the energy from the street and to transform it into an appealing and beautiful creation.
You can do this in Milan, Paris, New York, Moscow, Dubai or Tokyo; looking at modern technologies, internet, cinema, newspapers, old photographs and going back to past memories as well. You can also get inspired by families and children, ancient civilisations, and even by nature starting from the sea to the wood lands and deserts. I’m able to create different styles and imagine women in different outfits. Each collection is like making a movie.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it influence your work?
None of my designs would exist without music. It has always been part of my life and work, even more than places. I spent my youth as a DJ, and music is in everything I do – it embodies the energy of my creation.
You design for both men and women. What is more satisfying?
I do not have any preferences. My aesthetic is a combination of creativity, proportions and quality. When I have an inspiration and I create a shoe it does not have any gender; it’s just a beautiful idea. Androgyny has been the fil rouge of my latest collections. A biker boot, for instance, is both masculine and modern, but still sexy. Women are so seductive in men’s accessories and I find it very cool when a man wears a pair of embellished sneakers or loafers. I love to use zippers, hardware, buckles and crystals both in men’s and women’s collections. Androgyny is leading to an overall urban mood.
Who is the woman and the man who wears Zanotti?
Giuseppe Zanotti woman is self-confident, irreverent and extremely attractive. She is in constant evolution, but always sexy and with a strong personality. Women change so quickly and designers have to constantly follow their needs and desires.
I want Giuseppe Zanotti man to feel young, contemporary and cool through my creations. Men’s collections are characterised by some of my distinctive elements: high-quality and precious materials, elaborated craftsmanship with a touch of rock’n’roll, hip-hop and punk.
Many of your shoes are real masterpieces, meticulously designed and embellished. Why do you think shoes are so important in someone’s look, and what suggestions can you make by simply looking at what shoes one wears?
Nowadays footwear is no longer seen as an accessory, clothing has become the “beside element”. Shoes reflects our inner features, they are like mirrors empowering our own personal identity, increasing our attitude and way of being.
It’s a matter of personality, of that fickle element of femininity which always makes women and men feel renewed. To be glam, to be rock, to be punk are expressions of feelings and ways of being. There is a natural inclination in women to disguise. Shoes can help your inner transformation to become exactly the woman you have imagined to be. You can learn a lot about a woman from the shoes she wears, and this is becoming more and more relevant for men as well.
Giuseppe Zanotti is a Made in Italy brand, and you always defend this culture. Why, in your opinion, do you think Italians “do it better”?
Made in Italy is a concept deeply rooted in my idea of luxury. This idea is linked to the rich heritage of an inimitable Italian craftsmanship. It is molded by the work of skilled artisans, the finest fabrics, softest leathers and perfect finishing. Luxury to me is incorporating modern and innovative designs with the tradition of being Made in Italy.